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When his arms ceased to support him, he tried to
crawl on his elbows, but this proved to be very awkward,
so he lay down and, using his elbows as levers, tried to
roll. He' found he could do that. Rolling over and over
was easier than crawling and did not call for much
exertion. But it made him giddy, and every now^ and
again he lost consciousness. He had to stop often, sit up
and wait until the earth, the forest and the sky had stopped
whirling round.
The trees began to thin out and here and there were
open spaces where the trees had been felled. The^ trails
of winter roads appeared. Alexei was no longer thinking
of whether he would reach his own people, but he was
determined to go on rolling as long as he had the
strength to move. When he lost consciousness from the
frightful strain to which all his enfeebled muscles were
subjected, his arms and his whole body continued auto-
matically to make these complicated movements, and he
kept rolling on in the snow  towards the sound of gun
fire  eastward.
Alexei did not remember how he spent that night, or
whether he made much progress next morning. Every-
thing was submerged in the gloom of semi-oblivion. He
only had a vague recollection of the obstacles he
encountered in his path: the golden trunk of a felled
pine-tree that exuded amber-coloured resin, a stack of
logs, and sawdust and shavings that were lying about
everywhere, a tree stump clearly showing the yearly
rings at the cross-cut.
An unusual sound called him out of his state of semi-
oblivion, restored him to consciousness and caused him to
sit up and look round. He found himself in a big forest
clearing that was flooded with sunlight and strewn with
felled and as yet undressed trees and logs. Standing apart
were neat stacks of firewood. The midday sun was high
in the sky, the strong smell of resin, heated conifers and
of snow dampness pervaded the air, and high above the
as yet unthawed earth a lark was singing, pouring all its
soul into its simple melody.
Filled with a sensation of indefinable danger, Alexei
cast his eyes round the clearing. It was fresh, it did not
look as if it were abandoned. The trees had beep felled